Ghana's main opposition party picks Mahama as 2024 presidential candidate

FILE PHOTO: John Dramani Mahama, Ghana's president and National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate sings during his rally at Accra sport stadium

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana’s main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to retain former president, John Mahama, as its leader for the 2024 presidential election.

This is the third time Mahama will run for the top job in Ghana, one of Africa's most stable democracies. He came second to President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2016 and 2020.

The upcoming presidential vote is expected to be keenly contested. No party has ever won more than two consecutive terms and the country is in the grip of the worst economic crisis in a generation, which has driven up the cost of living and caused the cedi currency to tumble, sparking protests.

Mahama, 64, secured 297,603 votes, representing 98.9% of votes cast, the electoral commission said early on Sunday.

"I am humbled by the overwhelming vote of confidence reposed in me by the party," Mahama said shortly after the declaration. "Let’s keep our collective sights firmly on the supreme objective of the NDC: leading Ghana out of the current abyss in which we find our country."

Mahama, the then vice-president, came to power in July 2012, replacing John Atta Mills when he died unexpectedly. He won the election later that year. He has been seeking the opportunity for a second and final term since 2016.

The ruling party is due to pick its candidate later this year.

Ghana is seeking a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to shore up its battered economy. On Friday, financing assurances from its official creditors boosted hopes the loan will be signed off soon.

(Reporting by Christian Akorlie; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Jane Merriman)